Over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested on Twitter that Tesla’s solar roof technology would be made available worldwide during 2020. After a surge in the company’s electric tiles sales, Musk announced that “the world is ready for the next energy revolution”, referring to the electric vehicles revolution Tesla had initiated almost a decade ago.

Attention from business leaders is a mere proxy for the rapid growth that the solar energy sector had undergone in the few last years. Once considered old-fashioned, expensive, and unreliable, solar energy is now the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the world. In the US alone, the solar industry employs about 242 thousand people and creating tens of billions of dollars of economic value, while generating over 100 TWh of electricity – approximately 3% of the entire US electricity. Furthermore, according to the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization focused on energy policy, by 2040, the world’s electric-power capacity is expected to grow to 24%, which would make solar the largest single energy source.


Musk’s announcement is surprisingly shadowing a major breakthrough expected to lead the solar energy industry even closer to center stage. In recent study conduct at Brown University, researches have found a new way to increase the long-term durability of solar panels, and of other production methods, enabling to store and use solar energy for more extended periods of time. Chief scientists and business practitioners hope this achievement would act as a solution for one of the solar energy’s most evident shortcomings, the constant need for sunlight. 

With increasing electricity prices and grid instability, individuals, commercial business owners, and public officials are looking to improve their bottom lines by generating and storing their own energy. This interest is backed by eager investors looking to create not only social impact, but rather to gain profits. For example, Energy Capital Partners, a New Jersey-based private equity, reached financial close on its Fund IV at $3.3 billion with two primary investments in the energy storage sector. Similarly, New York-based investor and asset management firm JLC Infrastructure acquired and rebranded Greenskies Renewable Energy, reflecting the added focus on battery storage and emerging technologies.

Yet, for solar energy to enter a new global era, in which it would compete with other fuel sources, governments should become more active. A public endorsement could turbocharge the growth of renewables in the global energy industry. Some countries have risen to challenge. India is at the forefront of the trend, committing to increase expenditure for building solar plants, estimated to drop prices by 84% in eight years. Furthermore, India increased the amount of solar power it has installed 10-fold in the past five years, and its government is hoping to triple that amount in the next few years. Not just India, new solar plants and farms being opened all across the US, Australia, and China.

There is, indeed, a bright future for the solar energy sector, as public and private investments in technology and infrastructure are swiftly accumulating. Solar power not only provides a sustainable energy solution that mitigates climate change effects, but it is also the torchbearer of renewable fuels that could provide cheaper and more powerful alternatives to fossil fuels. It seems that it’s time to get on the (solar-powered) train, revise business strategy and investment met portfolios in order to stay in the lead.  

For more on Forbes, click here

For more on The Wall Street Journal, click here.

For more on the Inverse (Musk’s announcement), click here

For more on The Washington Times, click here.

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